Monday, August 9, 2010

Hey, Proffies: Be Hot Like Me At Your Own Risk.

Professors: Hot at Their Own Risk
Research shows that attractive people do better in life. They are treated better by teachers, doctors, even strangers, and are more likely to be hired and promoted than those who are less attractive. But in academe, being hot has a downside: Professors who are considered too good-looking can be cast by their peers as lightweights, known less for their productivity than for their pulchritude.


  1. [ducking]

    not surprising. have you ever seen a faculty photo? like a freak show.


  2. I hate when people think that a proffie's authority can be improved by "dressing the part." (I believe someone got slammed on RYS for suggesting that?) Some of the best profs I've ever had wore ugly Hawaiian shirts and socks with sandals, while some of ones who wore suits often came across as "I don't know what I'm doing, so maybe if I look the part they'll believe me."

  3. I've heard that some educational institutions prefers hiring younger teaching staff. Since many of them won't be much older than the snowflakes, they'll have more credibility with them. (Yeah, right.)

  4. When I started as an adjunct, I just had a baby. I went to teach in VERY casual duds. I did not look attractive at all. Sometimes I had baby food stains on my shirts. I am not excusing that lack of professionalism on my part. I know I could have done better in the dress department at that stage of my life, although I may have felt like I couldn't.

    I actually think though that this quality of mine enabled me to bond well with my students (so many of them had babies of their own). I started out teaching the entry level developmental studies writing course at a community college (not unlike HCC, the one in Arkansas recently a target of a bit of snark on this site). The students were....tricky to bond with, especially the women. The only problem I remember it causing for me was that security was always stopping me, asking for my ID to park in the faculty parking lot.

    I'd love to hear on this from Marcia though, who apparently is attractive enough to work as a lap dancer...What if she ran into one of her students in that capacity?

  5. Pay me like a professional and I'll be able to dress like one.

    Until then, be happy I don't come in looking like a homeless person who hasn't bathed in 4 months.

    I do the best that I can shopping in thrifty places like Ross and TJ Maxx (and even the sales rack at Old Navy) and still look better than 90% of my students and 40% of the standing faculty (in their ripped jeans, faded concert T-shirts from 1984, and their oh-so-fetching sweatsuits).

    Until or unless I make (not only a living wage but) enough money for cosmetic surgery, everyone will have to deal with my browning, crooked teeth, my bald pate, my love handles and my pot belly.

    Of course, one must wonder if the latter is why I have so much trouble being given work from term to term. Poverty sucks. One would think social scientists would understand that. Fucking faux-Marxists.

  6. Ah yes, let's feel sorry for good-looking people. And what about the independently wealthy? Does anyone ever consider their struggles with guilt and finding the best tax shelters?
    When I was a cash strapped grad student and VAP my colleaugues always commented on my snazzy duds, as if I was some kind of high roller. I bought them from the Salvation Army and off the Kohl's clearance rack. Hot tip: there's no better time to buy seersucker than November.

  7. "Pay me like a professional and I'll be able to dress like one."

    Mean Prof, you win at everything.

  8. Oh, um, Bella, that was a joke. But my time for being that attractive has definitely passed. You don't see too many 40-something lap dancers.

    Meany nailed it. In my first, unbelievably low-paying position, someone told me I ought to dress less like my students and I said, "When I get paid like a professional I'll dress like one." The job I have now, one of the relatively cushy ones we are all supposed to dream about, does not pay enough to raise a kid and have a professional wardrobe, so I look like crap too. It's actually embarrassing, but what can you do?

  9. Aw Marcia, I did know that was a joke. I'm not so good at tone, I guess. But I bet you were a hottie in your time, yes? (Remember, we are ALL hot online...)

  10. "I've heard that some educational institutions prefers hiring younger teaching staff."
    - I_e_f_a

    It's all about building that glossy,
    magazine-photo looking faculty so the school doesn't have to hire actors for the prospective students propaganda and those dorky pictures in the academic catalogue they use to fill in empty spaces. Won't keep the graduates from saying "Do you want fries with that?", nor will these prof-flakes publish on anything more than the Sweet William and the origins of armpit noises, but it WILL be a bitchin' looking school.

    (And this is why I want the for-profit hucksters, the business-model administrators, the culture war conservatives splitting logs and building sharashkas in Siberia or doing demo work by hand in Detroit.

  11. I am grateful that somebody has shined a light on this incideous form of bias that has plagued me throughout my professional career. Go ahead, roll your eyes all you want but it's not easy being The Beaker.

    Actually, I don't much care about how I look. I'm not the one who has to look at me, after all.

  12. While I was teaching, stuff like that was considered necessary to create a "safe" learning environment, whatever that was supposed to be.

  13. I haven't been told I'm too good looking to be successful as a professor, although I *have* been told I'm too "cute" to be effective in the classroom because I couldn't possibly command any authority.


    I was literally told that I am too short, too blonde, have too high-pitched a voice, and smile too sweetly. To which I reply: OSHA won't let me wear my fuck-me pumps in the lab; I've thought of dying my naturally blond hair darker, but I enjoy being underestimated by my colleagues; I sing soprano, but I suppose I could just choke down a few packs of ciggies a day to lower my register, but I'd rather not, considering that a high-pitched voice travels really well when I effing SHRIEK orders to these 'tards called lab students; and as for the smile - I've developed it over the years to deal with rabid admin and frustrated students - and the jokes on them, cause it's actually my "fuck off and die" smile...

    Cute, my ass...

  14. Geez, BB, maybe we should trade places. I would just about kill to be less intimidating to my students. I'm too tall, too bulky and too male.

    My wife tells me I ought to just surrender to it, walk into class on the first day in a black cassock and cloak, and begin with, "There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class..."

  15. Shortly after I received my Ph. D., I was told that I should stop having my students address me as "Doctor". According to my department head and his assistant, it "intimidated" the snowflakes and, therefore, they didn't want to ask me questions lest they feel bad about themselves. (Huh?) At the same time, I was told that my refusing to let them address me by my first name or a nickname was also distressing to the kiddies.

    When I heard those zingers, I started making plans for quitting. The place I was teaching at had become far too absurd for me.

  16. I guess that I'm ok on that account.

  17. Good-looking people generally have the advantage in this world. If their research is taken a little less seriously by some of their colleagues, it hardly offsets all the other advantages they have. However, anyone can be well-dressed, even if you are poor and unattractive. You can find decent clothing at the Salvation Army, including three-piece suits, silk blouses, lined skirts, and other clothing suitable for professionals. If you choose to dress like a slob, you really cannot complain about not getting promoted/hired/tenured or whatever. Once you have tenure, then you can dress like a slob, but if you are looking to advance your career, slovely dress is generally not going to further your goals. This is not a horrendously unjust policy that is only applied to professors. The rest of the white-collar world doesn't get a free pass for slovenly dress, either. Outside of academe, people who dress like slobs, with very few exceptions, do not do as well as those who dress neatly and professionally. One exception might be if you have a job that entails getting dirty, like teaching lots of lab courses with messy chemicals or dissection or whatever.

    If you want to dress like a slob, get your career to the place where your attire does not affect your salary increases, tenure, promotion, hiring, or any other advancement you desire. After that, you can wear whatever you want. But I'd wager that a sloppily-dressed hottie is still going to get ahead of a well-dressed homely person. That's unfair, but such is life.

  18. Oh fergodsake, Patti, there is a difference between dressing like a slob and not being able to afford decent off-the-rack clothing. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to thrift, and I especially didn't when I had to hold down 4-5 other jobs at a time just to support the one tenure-line job I had, which paid so brutally little that 60% of my income went to rent. I looked like a student because I wore my clothes from grad school, and it pissed me off to no end to be told I should go off and shop at Eileen Fisher or wherever it is middle-aged ladies buy their fancy professor clothes on that kind of salary. Or spend my precious research hours riffling through the racks at the Sally or Nordstrom rack for the one decent thing in a size 12. People asked to dress the professional part are generally paid like professionals -- academe is one of the few places where this is simply not true. Nor are we issues the janitors', waitresses', or garbage collectors' uniforms that would have been a huge relief to me.

    The pressure to dress for success was also misogynist and heterosexist - notice it's so often women here describing the remarks about their appearance by colleagues and on student evals. Myself, I looked like my dyke students because I was a friggin' dyke, and that threatened the straighties who worried my students might find me hot and forget to do the reading or convert to flagrant homosexuality or something. So as it was, I turned my hair up, wore what I wanted to (or had to), and had really, really high standards. At my next job, a comparatively REAL-er job, nobody ever said a word to me about how I dressed, because people were actually publishing and conferencing and so on and didn't have time to torture junior people about wardrobe malfunctions.

    But Bella, you are so right: online, we are all Angelina Jolie. Perhaps that's the best thing about teaching at an online university?!

  19. It seems like most people here are conflating being well-dressed with being attractive. They are certainly not the same thing. As a relatively attractive, youngish, female newbie to teaching, I definitely felt that some of my colleagues assumed I was less intelligent (and less well-informed about feminism) than they were. In addition, my students tended not to respect my authority. I ended up having to be more strict and serious than my colleagues as a result. Finally, the more I dressed down at work, basically frumping it up to mask my looks, the more respect I seemed to get. So it goes.

    Sure, attractive people have it better in this world... but not in academia. Good looking women simply MUST be bimbos, right?

  20. No, nobody is conflating the two. Topics evolve.

  21. And, isn't it all the same topic, though?

    Your appearance will always trump your skill at your profession. Whether hot or fugly, we're all being unfairly judged and having our careers ruled by people's evaluations of how we look, dress, and move. I am obviously a hold-over from the 1970s, but I was taught it's morally wrong to do that.

    Damn you, Sesame Street/Mr. Rogers/Magic Garden, and your liberal propaganda!

  22. Introvert.Prof, Snape was always my favorite character. A true chemist who took no bull from that 'flake Potter.

    Ladies, you go on and on about troubles due to your hot appearances. We need objective data to understand this phenomenon. Post pictures, from the neck down if you must, but please post. If you are shy, I'm available at, beakerben@ no, that probably would only get me in trouble.

  23. Introvert - I will pay you to to do that to one of my clases. OR maybe U just do the same thing, buy MacGonagall style.

    That oro do like my undergrad organic chem prof said before even handing out the syllabus: "Many of you will fail this class. Get over it. Get over yourself. You can't ALL be doctors." Then she gave us so many bonus points that I had a 102% final grade - and I skipped the effing final! muahahahah

  24. Thanks, Bipolar Beth.

    Here's what I do instead: I tell them that they are sophomore science majors. They need to put their social lives on hold until they're juniors, and buckle down. And if they don't, they won't make it.

    No matter where you are, sophomore year is Hell Year for science majors.

    I do like the quote from your orgo prof. Alas, I teach at a small school with few majors. We can't afford to run any of them off.

  25. All I am saying is that professors are not held to a higher standard than the rest of the white-collar world. I find it strange that so many complain about not getting the promotion/tenure/job they want while admitting that they dress like students. If you don't have time to shop for clothes, guess you will just have to wear your rags till they disintergrate, however, it should come as no surprise if your career doesn't advance the way you would like.

  26. Miz Patty:

    I am NOT known for my professional looking duds. In fact, when I FINALLY got a full time tenure track position, I asked an upper level friend from one of the colleges I part timed at for advice and she said she had one thing to say to me: "Make sure you always comb your hair."

    I'm just not that appearance orientated or something...I dunno. Anyway, I thought I WAS combing my hair!!!!

    Anyway, I got tenure earlier than usual at my full time digs. Turns out they are super impressed with professional output and not so worried about appearance. Lucky for me I am HOTTER than Angelina (at least online), huh?

  27. Blahhhh, Patti, you're bothering me because you are not listening, as well as writing run-on sentences and misspelling things in your dedication to matters sartorial. I never said that having neither the time nor the funds to dress well inhibited my career -- I've never lost a promotion, and the job for which I interviewed in my shabbiest clothes, after 4 years at below minimum wage in my first job, hired me. I said that my colleagues at lower-ranking institutions made snippy remarks about looking like my students (and implicitly like a dyke), whereas my colleagues at higher-ranking ones figured out that I could offer them more than great shoes. And I said that this is the only profession I can think of that pays below minimum wage, in many cases, but provides no uniform. Getting down on the fashion of professors who need food stamps to make it, especially when you imply that their job situation is their own fault when we know this profession is sinking like the Titanic, is just plain mean.

  28. Marcia,

    I suspect Patty thinks all professors earn $100K+ a year, have summers off, and just waltz in 2-3 days a week to dispense wisdom before their waiting tralls.

    I doubt she has a clue that many of the people who teach college classes on her campus are eligible for foods stamps... or competing for that one decent suit/dress at the local Salvation Army (as if they are uniform throughout the country with having high quality donations).

  29. Suspect all you want, but I work for a university, and I know what the salaries are. I am not being mean about professors being on food stamps, and I never even mentioned food stamps, so I don't know where that came from, unless it's just a pity play to make me look like a mean ol' Richie Rich because I don't happen to be on food stamps at this time unlike you Poor Little Match Girls with your hearts of gold. I do find it hilarious that the person who castigated me for misspelling "disintegrate" also accuses me of being mean. I'd say you're the mean one, unless my typo actually made your eyes bleed. Or are you just appalled by my advice to avoid dressing like a slob if you want to advance your career? Because it is advice you can find on any career Web site, and it's what the Career Services tells freshmen during their Very First Career Workshop. It's not particularly outrageous career advice, in fact, it's pretty standard stuff. On the other hand, if your your career is just fine and you don't want or need a promotion, then feel free to dress like a slob, more power to you.

    If you are too poor to afford new clothes, don't have time to shop in thrift stores, thrift stores aren't good enough where you are, and don't have a credit card to shop online, then you can always wear the same dress for a year. This woman managed to look professional most of the time, wearing just one dress: But then I guess you'd just say that you can't afford a dress because you are on food stamps and dresses are sexist anyway and I'm mean because I make typos and don't care about your food stamps or whatever.

  30. LOL @ Patty, who introduced the idea that proffies have two dichotomous sartorial options: "slob" or "career." And who seems to be skimming the comments instead of, you know, digesting them.

    Also, I'm lovin' the Uniform Project, but you posted a link to a gal wearing one dress for a month, not a year. Looks like the correct link is here:

    Note that in neither case do I find the women are typically dressed professionally. However cool the project is, a model for proffiedom it is not!

  31. Introvert - Yeah, my department's big enough that we WANT to the cull the premie herd - many, many times. And to get things going, we start it on the freshman - the intro bio sequence and the anatomy & physiology seqelae are *serious* weeders. I know people who've taken anatomy 6 times, and still no pass. Year 2 gets wayyyyyyy worse. But survive to junior status, and the classes get redonkulously easy. Makes total sense! Wait, wha??

  32. Fictional Snowflake on fictional course evaluation:

    "My prof iz such a scumball seh wheres the saim dress evry clas Fire her."

  33. Meanie, let me guess: That fictional course evaluation would be administered by text message at Graduate School, yes?

  34. It is not mean to point out college professors' grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. That's about our credibility as educated people, or lack thereof in Patti's case. Clothing is not a sign of intellectual credibility or teaching skill, whereas mastery of basic writing is.

    "unlike you Poor Little Match Girls with your hearts of gold," on the other hand, surpasses snark to become simply appalling. Dude (Dude-ess), in my first tenure-track job at a selective liberal arts college my salary was $1000/month after taxes, and my rent for a single room was $600. After food, commuting expenses, and utilities, you try buying clothes on that. I dare you.

  35. I am simply a grad student and a university staff member. Some of you could be my professors, ha ha! That's probably why you all can't stand me. Since I am not a prof, I am allowed to make typos, despite how horribly offensive you find them. However, I never criticized any of you for being broke or underpaid or whatever. You're the ones trying to out-poor each other by bragging about little money you make. I mean, I feel sorry for you and all, but being neatly attired might just help you earn more money, get better jobs, promotions, tenure, or whatever you're angling for. You could get yourselves to Dress for Success or some similar organization, they'd hook you up with a suit. They are in 75 cities so you should check it out if you can't afford the Salvation Army: Or try a local clothing bank. You can get free clothes if you are really desperate and have nothing decent to wear to work. Or dress like a slob, then complain bitterly about being underpaid. It's all the same to me.

  36. "I am simply a grad student and a university staff member."

    That explains everything! Patty is just another gradflake troll who a) has horrible reading comprehension skills, b) horrible writing skills, and yet c) thinks she knows more than we do.

    "I feel sorry for you and all, but being neatly attired might just help you earn more money, get better jobs, promotions, tenure, or whatever you're angling for."

    Wow, this shows SUCH a comprehension of how the university system works! Obviously it has NOTHING to do with course evaluations, teaching evaluations, publishing records, and the like.

    If you're hoping continue doing anything in academe post-gradflake-studies, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. The wake-up call will be a doozie!

    You and that Rachel person should go start a support group for people who try to be "helpful" when it's not asked of them. Unless you're just her sock puppet? Now that'd be priceless.

  37. Ohhh, that explains a lot. Patti speaks from a position of not knowing shit about how the university works. For one thing, grad students and staff are not allowed to make "typos" (run-on sentences and misspellings are not typos), if they plan on having careers of any kind. We throw away applications for academic positions if they have basic grammar and spelling issues. Even our departmental staff are all very well educated and don't make these gaffes, of the department as a whole looks bad. For another, Dress for Success doesn't mean crap if you haven't published several articles and a book, gotten mostly 4s and 5s on teaching evals on a 1-5 scale in all your classes, and served mightily on many committees. How much of that are you currently doing?

    Patti, if and when you get that degree, you will find out exactly how much it's worth in dollar terms, because most of the jobs out there are now adjuct positions at $1200-3000 a course. And if and when you get your first professorial paycheck after 7-8 years to degree (and before you smug up about yourself, I took 6), don't come crying to us. Collect your food stamps, go to the free clothing bin, dumpster dive for office supplies, whatever. Just STFU.

    But I confess I love the Uniform Project. Now what to axe this month for the $150 dress? Childcare? Groceries? Let's see, if I cut out internet, cable, and telephone ... oh, never mind.

  38. "of" for "or," on the other hand, is a typo. I pressed the wrong adjacent key.

  39. Let me make this clear: I am not a professor, have no intention of seeking a teaching career, so you can quit the self-projection. Where did you get the idea that I want to join you in your misery? I have a great career (in computer science, which has nothing to do with teaching evaluations). I don't plan on tossing away my career to work for peanuts. And yes, I will be continuing in academe when I finish my masters. In fact, it is my employer, the university, who is paying for my degree, which is the only reason why I am pursuing a second masters. So, I will not be crying to you, unlike most of you who posted upthread bitching about how little you make.

    And I am Rachel, I just got tired of seeing you all bitch at me with the same name that my loved ones use, so I changed my profile to my old RYS alias.

    Let's put this in perspective: I accidentally added an extra "r" to the word "disintegrate" in my comment on this poorly-trafficked, low-visibility academic blog, and that is what has drawn your ire? I can't imagine how you can get through grading a stack of essays without developing ulcers. Or is it because I dared to suggest a charity that helps poor people who can't afford work clothes? Dress for Success is a great organization, and I can't imagine why you are so outraged by the idea of poor people getting decent work clothes.

    I can forgive Marcia for her typo. I've already forgotten about it, while you all are still raging about that extra "r" in "disintegrate." Try not to let it eat you up inside; typos aren't fatal.

  40. Wow. Priceless, indeed.

    "Where did you get the idea that I want to join you in your misery?"

    Gee, I don't know. Maybe it's a basic assumption of those posting on a blog called COLLEGE MISERY.

    Tsk, tsk.... poor little Pattycakes. So you've been missing the whole point of the blog because your reading comprehension skills are truly THAT hideous. (FYI, "hideous" means "really, really bad.")

    Go reread the manifesto, little Pattycakes. Try, try, try to understand the words that are written in that post! I know that maybe it is hard, but you can give it your best shot.

    Oh, wait, that's an idiom, and those are hard for you, too. You just nevermind about the manifesto, then. Here's the Cliffs Notes version:

    If you're not a) a proffie here to commiserate or b) someone with a genuine interest in the proffie's perspective, then you need to STFU or GTFO.

  41. Oh, Rachel, it must KILL you to be surrounded by people who are obviously smarter than you are every day at work. That must be why you troll anonymous blogs to spout your ignorance-based wisdom so often.

    I recommend therapy. I'm sure it's part of your very cushy benefits package.

  42. I enjoy being around smart people. Unfortunately, my coworkers don't fit into that category, but there are plenty of smart people in other departments, notably the computer science faculty. Why "must" it kill me to be around smart people? Because you are threatened by people smarter than yourselves doesn't mean I am!

    There were quite a few students who posted to RYS - if they are no longer welcome here, why don't you just formally ban us? You always have the option not to read my comments, if I piss you off so much.

  43. Oh Lordy, it's that prissy finger-shaking Rachel again. You're right, Rachel, we do hate you. But not for the reasons you think.

  44. Take it up with the mods, Marcia. Maybe they will ban me if you bitch loudly enough. I was a frequent (unattributed) contributor to RYS but it's probably a different mod for this site.

  45. I'm a bit late to this party, but I'm a college senior (if all goes according to plan, this time next year I'll be a grad student) with this to say: I am 5'4" and wear size 10 pants. I.e., I am a hippopotamus maiden. Now, I work out regularly, and I really want to lose weight. But if I buy expensive blouses/pants/dresses now and then I lose weight, then I've wasted that money because the clothes no longer fit me. If I don't, then I still have the use of my fancy clothes…but I'm also still fat. This is why I'm reluctant to buy said fancy clothes.

    Also, I've noticed as an undergrad that guys will come to class in a T-shirt and jeans every single day, but as a girl you get a funny look from your classmates if you dress that casually (as I do). It's all about the cashmere sweaters, sundresses, and expensive tailored pants for my female classmates. Half the guys in my classes don't even shave regularly (and not in a "fashionable beard" way, either). Some male grad students I've had as TA's dress just as casually (though usually sans unkempt facial hair). But I suspect that when I become a TA, I'll be expected to dress up all the time and wear makeup…don't even get me started on makeup…

  46. Semiquaver, if your goal weight is within say two sizes of your current size, you should be able to buy clothes and then have them taken in by a good seamstress. I did this with a lot of my post-maternity work clothing; I liked feeling the money wasn't being wasted. $15 to take in a pair of pants may seem costly, but really, it's less than buying--and it saves time, too. (No hunting for a pair of dress jeans you like--just take in the ones in your closet!)

    And, oh, do I hear you re: the double standards on men and women's grooming. It's completely obnoxious. I blame the patriarchy.

  47. Semiquaver, since when is size 10 "hippopotamus maiden"?? Don't be ridiculous. Size 10 is "in perfectly healthy shape, and anyone who tries to tell you different can STFU". Ask your doctor if you don't believe me. If you're going to Malibu U and are surrounded by size 0s who haven't eaten since Christmas this probably isn't clear to you, but trust me. Go buy yourself a nice pair of pants and 3 nice shirts and rotate them, and don't flog yourself about your weight. JFC. I hate to see young women beat themselves up this way.


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